Ultimate Guide to SEO Keyword Research for Voice Search

Keyword Research

Technology has become a massive influence in every process across many industries. It has sparked many changes as advancements help streamline these processes to make them easier to do, cover more complex tasks, or introduce a new one altogether.

In the field of digital marketing, one of the most effective tactics for success is with search engine optimization (SEO), and a huge part of what makes this work is a good keyword research strategy. It’s one of the bases of how your website or perhaps a piece of content can easily be found on the web. While this has been made possible by the wonders of technology and the internet, it doesn’t stop there; the process has evolved further.

The integration of virtual assistants in smart devices has introduced a far more convenient method to search the web: voice search. This adds a new dynamic to the digital marketing process, altering the SEO landscape through a change in user behavior. To adapt, you’ll need to update your keyword research strategy too.

SEO Then and Now

During the pre-voice search era, SEO was focused on keyword research for ranking websites through crawling algorithms. It followed a pretty straightforward formula: publish content based on keyword density, optimize on-page, and build links. Now, modern SEO involves churning out authoritative content that puts users first, and the same goes for voice search SEO.

Voice search is a growing trend and is set to revolutionize how users look for answers to queries they launch on search engines. This comes as no surprise since it’s far more convenient to state your query instead of typing it in the search box. In fact, voice search is 3.7 times faster than typing. To put things in perspective, there are individuals who can speak 110-150 words per minute compared to the average typing rate going for 38-40 words per minute.

This level of convenience has led to a whopping 3,004% rise in voice search queries from 2008 to 2017. In January 2018 alone, an estimated one billion voice searches were conducted by users. By 2019, the voice recognition market is expected to reach the $601 billion mark. It’s undeniable that voice search is going to be the new norm in looking up information on the internet, so it’s only prudent to get your voice SEO game on point

How to Do Keyword Research for Voice Search

Since queries are done differently in voice search, you’ll need a different strategy in doing your keyword research. It’s important to keep in mind that the differences in spoken and typed queries may produce varied SERPs. This means that if a website is voice search optimized, it has better chances of engaging potential customers or subscribers compared to standard optimization.

If you want your website to rank high for voice queries as with the typed ones, here are a few things you need to do when doing keyword research:


Autocomplete, or Google Suggest, is a free tool that has been around for 14 years and counting. The feature can be found across many applications, providing some form of entertainment and causing controversy in other instances, but most importantly, it’s a great research tool when conducting searches.

  • To help remedy these amusing autocorrect suggestions, there are in-house tools that can be installed. However, this is also an action you can carry out manually by adding your keyword in the search box and selecting the right suggestions.
  • It’s important to note that search volumes per month and cost per click (CPC) estimates are all generated by the Keywords Everywhere tool, which you need to have a way to get instant feedback regarding the number of people searching for a specific keyword and the commercial intent that follows it.
  • This method will work well for some industries but not all of them. Take down all of the keyword suggestions you find and put them in your list of ideas you’ve generated from Google Search Console. Once this has been established, you can start looking at voice search in greater detail.
  • Voice search is mainly used for asking questions, which mainly involve the Whos, Whats, and Wheres of the world. Having a list of these question modifiers can make you take the Google Suggest keyword data even further.
What Does
Where Can
When Have
How Was
Why Will
Should Are
Which Who
Do Is
  • All these question modifiers can help you dig deep into the questions people are asking since these may not always have a huge search volume and be easily searchable. To expand the keyword set even further, use wildcards in the search queries with the main subject.
  • Some of your questions may not make sense and may include keywords that you don’t want to go after, but doing this for all the modified questions and your key subjects will give you a good starting point for your voice-focused keyword search.

Negative Keyword List

Negative keywords play an important part in search engine optimization by preventing your website from appearing on search queries for specific keywords that you don’t want to be associated with. This is crucial in fine-tuning your keyword research, particularly in cases where you don’t want your website to appear in keywords that can have a negative impact on your business.

  • Trim your existing list by creating another list of negative keywords you don’t want your site to appear for.
  • Look over your list and single out queries that have nothing to do with what you offer.
  • If you run an e-commerce website that sells luxury bags, add queries that have words such as “affordable,” “bargain,” “cheap,” and “inexpensive” to your negative keyword list.

Conduct a Competitor Benchmark

In running a business, it’s essential to know what’s going on with the competition, so you can find out how you stack up against them. This isn’t anything new, but you’ll still need to take the necessary steps in making your data set as unfailing as possible and not miss anything the competition is doing.

  • Enter your competitors’ information into Ahrefs or SEMrush
  • Filter down by their informational areas
  • Find new ideas from the competition
  • Use your question-related modifiers and add them to your list

Expand on Your Keyword Set Using Questions

Let’s assume you’re running a website that’s already ranking on search engines. This is a great baseline that will help you start optimizing for voice search. As you all know, conducting voice searches are all about questions, making Ahrefs’s question tool invaluable.

  • Since this is going to be one of the most important parts of your keyword research, it may be worth inputting the main categories in this section to find questions around those, since Ahrefs only takes the first ten keywords from the keyword list. You can then gradually dig deeper after having the main questions.
  • Depending on the niche, there will be many long-tail questions with very little search volume. You should filter through these to see if they are useful. If they are, keep them; if not, it would be better to simply get rid of them.
  • There are other instruments you can use for keyword research, so you can find questions that people are trying to ask when they conduct searches. Keep in mind that depending on your niche, this option may or may not be helpful. You can check out Quora, where you can find voice-based questions that people use to seek assistance.
  • When you have the first results of queries in your list, you can include them in your Excel sheet, keyword set, or Ahref data. The same can be said about Pinterest since it can also help in looking for questions in the retail and lifestyle sectors.
  • If you wish to go the extra mile in broadening your keyword set, you can use the associated queries tool. This can help you improve on what you already have on your list. And if you combine all that you have from search console with the ones you’ve obtained from associated queries, you’ll have plenty of relevant questions to begin your voice search strategy.

Tips When Doing Keyword Research for Voice Search

Voice search delivers a big and important change in the world of SEO. In this regard, there are best practices that you need to know, so your keyword research for voice search SEO can become easier and more effective in execution.

  • Know your buyer persona

Before you even begin shifting your focus on keywords, it’s important to understand your buyers to know what they need so that you can address it properly. If you still haven’t done any research on this, it would be best to spend some time conducting interviews with your customers to understand their goals, pain points, and issues. Make sure you pay attention to the phrases and words they use, which may be useful in your keyword research strategy.

  • Study and use the best tools in the market

You can’t execute tasks the proper way if you’re not equipped with the right tools for the job. Understanding keywords and common phrases is crucial in your voice search optimization efforts, so you’ll need to utilize the many tools and software that are available to help you acquire more data and do this better. Tools like Ahrefs, HubSpot, Keywords Everywhere, Moz, SERPS, SEMrush, and Google Keyword Planner all have specific features to help you become a smarter researcher with the keywords you’re targeting.

  • Review your website authority

Website or domain authority is a point system scaled from 1 to 100. A brand website starts with a score of 1, and the closer it gets to 100, the tougher it gets to earn more points. While there isn’t a good or bad number, it’s important to consider this when you start focusing on your keyword strategy.

To know what your website’s domain authority is, you can use tools such as Moz’s Open Site Explorer or the SEO Review Tools Website Authority Checker.

  • Analyze data to find opportunities

Taking the time to study the data trends is a great way to better understand how your target audience uses search terms and phrases. This is where you can determine if they conduct their searches via questions or just short phrases.

You can then sort your keywords by difficulty, starting from lowest to highest. Find keyword opportunities that have low difficulty but deliver high monthly searches. It’s recommended to go after keywords with a difficulty score of below 50, but if your website has a high domain authority, you can go after more difficult keywords right away.

  • Use long-tail conversational keywords

In voice search optimization, keywords are not just keywords anymore. In the world of voice search, you’ll need to use long-tail+, with the plus referring to the conversational phrases that you need to include when optimizing for conversational voice search.

The change involving your keyword strategy will now be focused on being more conversational in nature and follow how people talk and how they verbally ask questions in real life. You can start by thinking about the kinds of questions customers call when they ask about anything revolving around your business and documenting the exact words they use when they engage your team in customer service.

Once you have a list of statements and questions your customers frequently speak about over the phone, you can begin the creation of content based on those longer, more conversational search terms.

  • Review and repeat

Rounding everything up is an important move that will make sure you’ve done it right: take a step back, wait, review, and repeat. First, you take a step back and gather enough data to accurately gauge how your new list of voice search optimized keywords will perform.

With that data in your hands, you can review the performance of all your keywords and figure out if they are helping you capture voice search traffic. If they’re good, keep them and come up with keywords similar to them including other variations. If not, remove them from your list and repeat the process until you’ve come up with a list of keywords that brings the optimal traffic for your brand.

Final Thoughts

Voice search offers a host of advantages following its emergence as an alternative to the standard search. For one, it makes going on websites or accessing an app quicker and easier, which could be crucial when driving or being in the middle of an activity where you can’t directly use your smartphone. Perhaps, it’s just more fun to interact with virtual assistants rather than type queries on search engines. Regardless of the reason, people are increasingly more inclined to use voice search, so as a marketer, you’ll need to adapt to this change and up your voice SEO game. It’s the only way you’ll be able to grow your business in this rapidly changing digital environment.